How is it that one of the most-used rooms in many homes is also one of the most neglected? This spring-cleaning season, take some time to set up your laundry room so that washing and drying aren’t such a chore. Paint, decorate and organize, and it will become a room you’ll want to spend some time in. (And if you have a laundry room, you will spend time there: The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans wash 400 loads of laundry a year.)
And while you’re at it, reeducate yourself on stain-fighting and garment-cleaning essentials to make your work as enjoyable as your space. “There is something to be said for the knowhow of our grandmother’s generations,” says Gwen Whiting, one of the co-founders of the Laundress, a New York laundry products company and washing service (she recommends Ellen Sandbeck’s Organic Housekeeping and the Laundress’s Web site, www.thelaundress.com). “They really knew about the fabrics, steps and good elbow grease. The only difference today are machines and more sophisticated soap ingredients.”
Of course, it’s those specialty detergents and cleaning tools that are clogging up laundry rooms in the first place, so we found a collection of hampers, bins, hooks and other supplies to wrangle everything in an orderly fashion.
“With the proper tools,” says Sabrina Soto, a designer and HGTV host, “your laundry room is bound to stay neat and clutter-free.”
• Get Organized
“Detergents and cleaning supplies can be emptied into matching jars or bottles for uniformity, making your space look fun and orderly,” Soto says. Clear glass canisters let you know when supplies are low ($5-$20, www.crateandbarrel.com).
As laundry products become more and more specialized, you might find that you have more and more products to organize. “Years ago, it was just a laundry product,” says Nancy Brock, senior vice president of education for the American Cleaning Institute. “Today it’s a laundry product for someone that may have sensitive skin issues. . . . We’re looking for things that make our life easier, better, healthier.”
Label jars of specialty soaps and detergents with chalkboard sticker labels. Soapstone chalk on self-adhesive vinyl labels will wipe clean with a wet cloth ($10, www.crateandbarrel.com).
Place products that are most frequently used at a reachable level. And, Soto suggests, use a bin or storage caddy, such as a Vinea storage basket, to avoid getting scum and residue on shelves and other surfaces ($12-$35, www.organize.com).
Among the essentials that the Laundress’ Lindsey Boyd lists for a well-organized laundry room are a hand-washing sink or tub, hampers, drying racks, hangers, mesh washing bags, a steamer, trash cans and “a nice, clean work table.” She has a bar-height Ikea table for her laundry. For something similar, try Ikea’s Utby stainless steel table ($199, www.ikea.com).
• The Just-Right Hamper
Probably the most crucial part to getting your laundry organized is finding the right hamper for your needs. A four-bag commercial laundry sorter is good for separating laundry for a family of four or for separating out darks, lights, hand-washables and dry-clean-only clothes ($78, www.organizeit.com).